Auditions are a nerve-racking experience for anyone. Perhaps that is why there are hundreds of blogs written on "how to deal with audition anxiety" for singers.
But there's not much information out there about how we, as chorus directors, can help ease audition anxiety for potential new singers. And shouldn't we want to do this?! By putting the singer at ease, their vocal abilities will shine and they'll immediately feel "at-home" with the chorus. That's exactly the environment that I want to create when recruiting new singers!
Here are some helpful tips on creating an inviting environment for your auditions (in GIFs, because why not?):
Find the "right" volunteer to manage auditions.
Look for someone with a welcoming personality, who responds to audition inquiries immediately, stays organized with audition requests, and engages with your potential new singers.
If the volunteer looks too eager^, avoid at all costs.
Book a comfortable and non-terrifying audition space like a choir rehearsal room.
Please don't make anyone sing on stage; only Rachel Berry can pull that off!
It can be intimidating auditioning for a crowd, so keep your audition panel small.
Also, please don't invite Simon Cowell.
Try to provide opportunities where auditionees can sing with others instead of by themselves.
Some people don't like singing alone, but that doesn't mean they aren't a good fit for choir!
On the other hand, some people are WAY too comfortable singing alone.
Assign a friendly greeter to meet auditionees during audition day.
Hopefully they aren't as slow though.
Use the beginning of the audition to make introductions and put the singer at ease.
Let them know that you are not here to "judge" them, but rather to see where they are in their vocal progress.
You probably want to avoid that face too.
If they are struggling, help them! Instead of making them suffer through their sight reading exercise, help them fix their mistake so they can move on. If they are finding a vocal exercise challenging, maybe try another one.
Throw them a frickin' bone, man!
Got other tips? Let us know in the comments!
Tori Cook is the former Director of Sales & Marketing at Chorus Connection. She sings with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and is a board member of the Greater Boston Choral Consortium. In a past life, she was the Music Director of the Harborlight Show Chorus and President of Chorus pro Musica in Boston. When not making music, she daydreams about adopting a golden retriever puppy and scuba diving to exotic locations around the world.